Buying a listed building in Scotland? Here’s what you need to know.

If you’re thinking about buying a listed building in Scotland, you need to be aware of the grading categories and how they differ from those in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Across its beautiful 30,000 square miles, Scotland has over 47,400 listed buildings. These buildings come in a vast variety, and it’s not just houses and homes that can be listed in Scotland. Man-made structures such as statues, sundials, and fountains are all on the list, as are castles and churches.

We’ve created this guide to help you understand the grading system and what the categories mean for you and your potential renovation.

Categories in a nutshell

Category A buildings: Of national importance in terms of either their architecture or historical value. This category also covers good or marginally altered examples of a particular period, style or building type. 7% of all listed buildings in Scotland fall into this category.

Category B buildings: A building of regional or local importance, a major example of a particular style or period, which may have been altered. 50% of listed buildings in Scotland are Category B.

Category C buildings: A building of local importance, a lesser example of any period and one that may have been moderately altered. Most listed structures in Scotland (43%) are Category C.

Renovating a listed building in Edinburgh

You may have heard the myth that only the front of a building is listed. This is merely a myth. 

When a building is added to a categorised list, protection extends to the inside, the outside, to any object or structure fixed to the building, and to any structure within the surrounds of the building that was built before 1948.

Before undergoing renovations in your listed building, it’s worth noting that you need to apply for listed building consent from your local council to demolish, alter, or extend any part of your listed building (most especially if it’s done in a way that affects its character).

Routine repairs and redecoration that do not affect the character of the listed building do not normally require consent.

If you’re planning alterations to a listed property, be realistic as to what will be allowed. For instance, planning permission is unlikely to be granted to add a large modern garage to a small cottage. By working mindfully with the property, your plans are much more likely to be approved.

The team at Rollo has broad experience in helping homeowners upgrade their listed buildings.

Replacing your kitchen or bathroom fittings rarely require listed building consent unless it involves alteration to the building, such as an extract duct, a relocated boiler flue, or alterations to door openings or historic finishes.

If you are looking to make thermal improvements without the need for listed building consent options include draught-proofing, improving loft insulation, and upgrading to a more efficient boiler (so long as it does not involve altering the building). 

Double-glazing windows and adding insulation to walls and floors can be a little more challenging and will almost certainly require listed building consent.

These are services we can help you with.

If in doubt, the best advice is always to speak with the local planning authority. You can also read Edinburgh Council’s guide to listed buildings here.

Specialist surveys

Before you buy a listed building, it’s worth getting a survey done by a surveyor who specialises in historic buildings, just to make sure there are no costly surprises.

When you’re working out your budget, it’s worth remembering that traditional buildings typically need more maintenance than a modern home. Make sure the property has been kept as dry as possible since excessive moisture is a major cause of problems.


If you want to carry out an alteration, an extension, or a demolition, you must apply for listed building consent. After all, no-one likes to see a conservatory bolted on to a castle or a water slide in the moat.

Contact your local council first for advice on any changes that require consent.

Ready to start a project in Edinburgh?

If you’re planning to revive your listed building, we can help you achieve your vision. We are a professional construction company and have delivered projects for satisfied clients all across Edinburgh. Get in touch

The Stables
Grannies Park Industrial Estate,
Edinburgh Road,
EH22 1JR

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